Bearing Each Other’s Burdens
Unemployment in our Minnesota county has reached 12. 3%. Our local newspaper said, the more than 14,000 people out of the labor force outnumber the census numbers for our city. My husband, a bishop for the LDS church, said, “That explains a lot.”
A lot of job loss, a lot of hardship, a lot of stress, a lot of making do and doing without.
When even one member of the community suffers, the weight touches many. If a contractor loses his job, he or she cannot pay the piano teacher or day care provider, who may not be able to pay his or her doctor. The doctor, in turn, will have to cut costs, which may mean fewer hours for someone else. Multiply that over and over to understand what my husband means when he says, “That explains a lot.” We’re all carrying the burden of this recession.
A similar ripple occurs—even though that ripple may be less obvious—when one of us suffers in any physical, mental, spiritual or emotional way.
When my friend suffers, I also suffer. That friend may ask for my continued love. And I would hope that I could always give it. I would hope that I could always say, “Yes, I will carry your burden with you. I will give and suffer with you.”
Honestly, it’s easier to say, and harder to do.
Can I be long suffering? Can I be a true friend, knowing it will tap my own reserves? What if their suffering drags me into the same poverty of spirit? Do I walk away to protect myself?
Sometimes when the burden is heavy, I would rather—figuratively speaking—sell my house, get a job somewhere else and find a new community. And sometimes that’s the right move. But, just as not many houses are selling right now, jobs are not easy to find, and it’s not much better in another place, friendships can’t relocate, either.
The real suffering of a friend has intermingled with my own, and my husband reminded me how I can bear her burden with her. His answer for my situation was, “Back off the intensity, just not the frequency.”
My answer isn’t for everyone. What is yours? How do you hold on to your reservoir of strength at the same time as you extend your hand?